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Judas hung in effigy, Mexico City, early 20th century

The burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned. Other related mistreatment of Judas effigies include hanging, flogging, and exploding with fireworks.[1][2] Anthropologists generalize these types of activities as "scapegoating rituals". A similar ritual would be the hanging in effigy of Haman and his ten sons during Purim.

Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion that is practiced by the faithful during Easter. Customs vary, but the effigy of Judas is typically hanged (reenacting Matthew 27:5) on Good Friday, then burned on the night of Easter Sunday.

In many parts of Latin America this practice occurs on the eve of the new year as a symbol of ridding one's self of evil and beginning a new year in spiritual purity. Some communities observe this ritual using various effigies, including the biblical Judas (who betrayed Jesus). This custom, during which the effigy is burned on a stake, is invariably called "Quema del Año Viejo"[3] meaning literally "the burning of the old year."


Burning of Judas in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, 1909
Creating a Judas figure in form of a devil at a workshop at the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City.

The burning of Judas was once widely practiced across Europe, and is still practiced in parts of Greece,[4] Mexico,[5] Brazil,[6] Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, Cyprus where it is called 'lambratzia',[7] the Philippines, and elsewhere.

Judas burnings also took place in the district of Dingle, in Liverpool, England, in the early 20th Century,[8] until it was banned by the authorities. The burning of Judas is not traditional to England, although a very similar custom of burning Catholic rebel Guy Fawkes in effigy exists.

Allegations of antisemitism[edit]

Video of a Judas figure being burned (really exploded) in Mexico City in 2015

The practice was once cited in the United States State Department's Religious Freedom Report for Greece.[9] The report incorrectly referred to the custom as the "burning of the Jew", whereas in Greece the term always used is "burning of Judas". In response, Archbishop Christodoulos, then head of the Greek Orthodox Church, denied such allegations, stating that this practice refers to the image of "Judas the traitor" and not Jews in general.[10]

In Latin America, despite the controversial nature of anti-Semitism associated with the "burning of the Jew" (one of the custom's many monikers), although the practice does exist in the above stated form it is not regarded as an act of hostility towards the Jewish nation or ethnicity but is simply representative of "evil", thus not differing in any way from the other effigies listed.[11]


  1. ^ Hanging Judas in Mexico
  2. ^ F.F.T. (1902-02-09). "Lenten Days In Mexico. - Curious Customs To Be Seen This Week In The Land Of Montezuma. - Article - Nytimes.Com". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  3. ^ es:Año viejo
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ http://zedilloworld.presidencia.gob.mx/PAGES/culture/note_semanasanta.html
  6. ^ Novo Milênio: Histórias e Lendas de Santos: Malhação do Judas. Quem lembra?
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ BBC - Liverpool - Local History - Judas Burning
  9. ^ In April 2006, the Central Board of the Jewish Communities of Greece continued to protest the Easter tradition of the burning of a life-size effigy of Judas, sometimes referred to as the "burning of the Jew," which they maintained propagated hatred and fanaticism against Jews. One Greek Orthodox bishop, a local NGO, and the Wiesenthal Center wrote formal objections to this tradition.
  10. ^ ekathimerini.com | Greece is not racist, says irked archbishop
  11. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Judas — Please support Wikipedia.
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35 news items

Yahoo News

Yahoo News
Sun, 05 Apr 2015 15:23:03 -0700

People observe the "Burning of Judas" a celebration held on Holy Week, at the La Merced ne … "If people don't like them, if they did something wrong, they'll be here," said Leonardo's son, Luis Pablo Linares, warning that it's open season for anyone ...


Sun, 31 Mar 2013 04:59:49 -0700

Hundreds of residents of the small suburb nestled on the western edge of Mexico City came together at the town's church to witness the burning of Judas effigies. The crowd burst into cheers as the first reed-and-paper devil-like figure started swirling ...

Slate Magazine

Slate Magazine
Sat, 26 Sep 2015 06:20:24 -0700

A few hours later an effigy of President Peña Nieto was burned to the ground in a subversive version of the “burning of Judas,” an annual Easter ritual. This action, which happened after the attorney general broadcasted his unconvincing account of the ...

Fox News Latino

Fox News Latino
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 07:37:26 -0700

The burning was incorporated in a local tradition called "La Quema de Judas" (The Burning of Judas), a Roman Catholic ritual in which an effigy of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who according to the Gospel betrayed and sold Jesus Christ, is torched. In ...

La prensa

Mon, 06 Apr 2015 06:26:12 -0700

LIMA, Peru — When President Obama declared Venezuela a "national security threat" and smacked the country with sanctions last month, an overheated response from the South American nation's highly combustible government was inevitable. And so ...

Times of India

Times of India
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:20:18 -0800

While Santa Claus is `Christmas Appoppan' for Malayalis elsewhere in the state, for generations of Kochiites, he was just Pappanji or Pappani.And New Year's Eve wasn't complete until an enormous effigy of Pappani in red Santa costumes was burnt at the ...

Q Costa Rica News

Q Costa Rica News
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 06:03:03 -0700

For visitors, the Quema de Judas (“Burning of Judas”), where an effigy of Judas is made and hung on Good Friday, the on Saturday night the effigy is lit on fire and burned, can be an interesting cultural event to witness. Be extremely careful in ...

Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph
Mon, 06 Apr 2015 11:22:29 -0700

A dummy of US President Barack Obama reading "Obama abolish the decree now" is burnt as the "Burning of Judas", during an Easter celebration, at El Valle shantytown in Caracas on April 5, 2015. Dolls of US President Barack Obama and his Venezuelan ...

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